Updated: Jun 16
Chris Phoenix is a 22 year old artist out of Seattle, WA who released his third project in March. We've been loving his dreamy beats, and in our new Q&A, he talked to us about his inspirations and creative process.
How long have you been making music?
I have been making music since 2020, I first started releasing songs around 2021.
What are you working on currently?
I released my 3rd project in March so, I’m currently working on releasing singles and focusing on just making/marketing my music. For so much of the first two years, I was prioritizing putting out quality and building extensive body of works but not so much exposure.
What’s your writing process like?
My writing process used to be a lot more stringent than it currently is. More so, my first year, I use to start with writing verses that arises from a topic, whether that be mental health, how I’m feeling, money, or just any random subject. Then I would expound on that writing the entire song , chorus last. Now, I usually start with the a melody. Just me humming or listening to an instrumental over and over and over and over…haha… and over again. Then, I’ll mumble and write the words in my phone so I won’t forget but the bulk of the song, I actually won’t write but freestyle because that’s a lot more authentic and I let the beat say what needs to be said for me. I think that showcases the biggest change from my early songs to my more recent output.
Do you have a favorite song you’ve written? If you do, why is it your favorite?
My favorite song, like most artists, is the next one. But, in regards to sentimental songs which stick out to me…my favorite is probably "Trail Mix." That song was completely free-styled and ended up becoming my best written song. Yes, a song I didn’t even write is my best written song. When I was recording it, words just kept flowing and if you listen to it, it feels like me just thinking out loud. It is comparable to a basketball player in the zone and every shot is just going in. Or, when you’re cruising down the street on a sunny day and you’re just catching green after green, feeling like today is your day. I don’t even feel like I wrote that song but, my heart did.
Who, or what, has most influenced your music and artistic style?
I’d say my inequities as a human has influenced my music the most. My lust for acceptance, love, money sparks my insanity to make music thinking other people will listen. Making music is beautiful but it’s also some of the most narcissistic things a person can do. I just try to be self aware and straddle the line between gloating in my flaws through my art and just being cognizant.
Regarding artists, I stopped being heavily influenced by other artists because I think I’m better than any musical artist that’s ever lived. It sounds absurd and unfathomable, 1. Because music is subjective and 2. I haven’t accomplished anything yet but, I know my talent and ability so I try to instill the mindset that I don’t need to look up to anyone. I do look at artists though. I listen to EVERYTHING. But artists I pay attention to from an amazement standpoint and influence are, Kanye West, Jay Electronica, Tupac Shakur, Drake, Jay Z, Charles Hamilton, and Kendrick. When these artists drop, I listen and usually have the feeling, “Man, I gotta step my shit up. These dudes are RAPPING rapping.”
But I also dig a lot of non-rap music and acts such as Blink-182, Clairo, Slipknot, Owl City, Phoebe Bridgers, and Taylor Swift among other have really cultivated my extensive sound.
You mentioned that you think making music can be narcissistic. Can you expand on that?
It’s not more so making music but making any form of content which centers you for consumption especially in a world we live in which pressures humans to commodify themselves for the exchange of social fortune, financial capital, and influence. The act of just creating music on its own is separate from releasing said music and then, promoting it as if you expect there to be demand for some crazy wild idea that came up from your head. At the same time, Martin Scorsese had to be narcissistic to think out of all movies being created across the world every year, Taxi Driver was special. It’s a thin line between outstanding confidence in one self and narcissism which is only distinguished by one’s success level.
Somewhere there is a kid in the middle of West Virginia who has that same believe Scorsese had in his own project which has a budget of $600. His friends taunt him and say he’s nothing close to Scorsese or Tarantino but he might have the same drive. People tend to this disregard the belief an individual has in themselves if they don’t see results. The “Next Michael Jordan” gets clowned for embracing that label until he produces results which actually translate and somehow supersedes the outwardly comparison.
Whether most musicians admit it or not, I’d say a large majority release music for the reason being that they are confident in their work and fantasize about the content reaching a large number of listeners (this obviously varies by artist because “large” can mean 10,000 or 1,000,000 listeners). Now, how many people release music every day? Quite a lot. Why is yours going to be the one that draws people to care about it? You got to have a sense of narcissism to believe your words, your melodies, your flow…is just different because you are different. Sometimes it’s the truth…sometimes it’s not. As an artist, you still have to believe it.
What are you listening to currently?
I’m listening to a lot of my own music but on days I don’t feel as narcissistic, I’ve been listening to underground artists. It’s funny I call them underground because they’re actually relatively known and if they’re underground, I got to be soil. Destroy Lonely, RX Papi, all of Griselda, Autumn!, Tony Shhnow, Sugarhill Keem, Sha EK, Dougie B, JpegMafia, and Rio Da Yung OG.
Listen to Chris Phoenix's playlist now.
First two photos by Josh Behm.